Bishop backs Trump’s fresh North Korea sanctions

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has welcomed US president Donald Trump’s harsh new executive order aimed at isolating North Korea and punishing individuals, banks, airlines, shipping and other companies doing business with the rogue nation.


Ms Bishop, speaking to reporters at the United Nations in New York on Thursday, raised the prospect of Australia also beefing up its sanctions on North Korea in response to its aggressive nuclear and missile program.

Mr Trump’s new executive order grants the US Treasury Department increased authority to target “any individual or entity that conducts significant trade in goods, services, or technology with North Korea” and puts a spotlight on textiles, fishing, information technology and manufacturing industries.

Planes and ships that go to North Korea are banned for 180 days from visiting the US, a plan aimed at disrupting North Korean shipping and trade networks.

“I certainly welcome this announcement,” Ms Bishop said.

“Australia is of the view that we must put maximum economic pressure on North Korea to ensure that it is compelled to return to the negotiating table and Australia will continue to review our autonomous sanctions – that is the sanctions that we impose over and above those mandated by the UN Security Council.”

Mr Trump, at a lunch meeting with South Korean President Jae-in Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New York, said his new executive order would cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s nuclear and missile program.

However, in a rare statement North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un said Mr Trump’s threats and sanctions had only hardened his resolve to follow a nuclear path.

Mr Trump also said he was buoyed by reports China’s central bank has told China’s other banks to immediately stop doing business with North Korea.

Ms Bishop is representing Australia at the United Nations General Assembly this week and met with the foreign ministers of Iran and Mexico on Thursday.

Australia and the US veer on the Iran nuclear deal, with Mr Trump threatening to decertify what he describes as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”.

Ms Bishop said the nuclear agreement was “the focus” of her discussions with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“It is the best available option to deal with Iran’s nuclear programs and we certainly wouldn’t want to see it breakdown in the absence of any viable or credible alternative,” Ms Bishop said.

Ms Bishop said she was unaware of any Australian casualties from the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico that has killed more than 230 people.

She offered Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso Australian expert support in the search effort for survivors, but was told Mexico has sufficient help from US, Israeli and Japanese teams.